Penn State Football Players Committed To Peach Bowl With NFL Decisions Looming
Official decisions about the Peach Bowl and the NFL Draft have yet to come out, but many Penn State football players said Friday they’ll play in the Peach Bowl at the end of the month.
Tight end Theo Johnson announced earlier in December he would play in the Peach Bowl before beginning preparations for the NFL Draft. He added on Friday that he expects most, if not all, of the players who haven’t opted out of the bowl game to participate in Atlanta.
So far, just defensive end Chop Robinson, pinned as a top draft prospect, announced that he’ll be opting out of the bowl game.
Linebacker Curtis Jacobs, tight end Tyler Warren, offensive lineman Hunter Nourzad, cornerback Daequan Hardy, and defensive end Adisa Isaac, each of whom are draft eligible and said they’re still weighing their options for the NFL, said they’ll play in the Peach Bowl. Offensive lineman Olu Fashanu, another top draft prospect, said he hasn’t made a decision about the bowl game.
“We made a pact as a leadership group. We’re committed to this team,” Jacobs said. “If you want to be in a leadership role on the team, you have to be committed to the team, and I feel like we did that to great effect, and I feel like there’s still a lot to play for.”
For James Franklin, there’s more than just an honor in playing in a bowl game for players. There’s also a chance for athletes to promote themselves to NFL teams.
Last year, quarterback Sean Clifford’s Rose Bowl performance was an impressive climax to a long, six-year career. Clifford’s 16 completions on 22 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns are often seen as what boosted him to a fifth-round draft selection for the Green Bay Packers, where Clifford is serving as the team’s backup quarterback.
“There’s a ton of value in finishing what you started, and there are a lot of ways to do that. We’re very aware of what’s going on in college football,” Franklin said. “For the majority of our players, playing in this game and playing well is going to increase their opportunities and their draft grades and things like that.”
Johnson, who said he’s talked to other players about their decision-making process, said he considered it part of his role as a captain to play in the Peach Bowl and serve as his team’s leader one final time.
“That’s the standard that we have here,” Johnson said. “Other guys have different circumstances or different reasonings for leaving, but more times than not, we tend to stay, especially the captains.”
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